Greetings, Nerd Bastards readers. Jake here, from The Hall of Comics – where heroes shop. I’m a bagged and boarded professional. My passion (and business) is to read, write about and sell comics. In an alliance forged in the stars, The Hall of Comics will be dropping by Nerd Bastards weekly, to bring you the latest word and the week’s best pulls in comics. So sit back, grab a snack, and check out the latest comic book titles you should be reading.
Last week wasn’t just a bear of a week for comic books. It was a giant, snarling grizzly bear with a few friends to back him up. There were so many big titles and events that I had to go AWOL from reviews, but I’m going to put you onto a few of those titles to catch you up after we get through this week’s books. That was a good week for indie titles, while this one is back to being Marvel heavy. Can’t be helped, folks – quality is quality. Let’s begin with Marvel’s new, official, this is for really real, Wolverine. She’s the murder machine formerly known as X-23, the original Wolverine’s clone, Laura Kinney. It’s written by Tom Taylor, who recently did the short-lived and underrated Superior Iron Man series. Taylor has an easy-going ability to write fun stories with likable characters. This first issue finds room for plenty of action while we get to know Laura. I haven’t read any X-23 stories before, but I definitely got into what Taylor’s doing with her. The art by David Lopez and David Navarrot looks great. It’s well suited to the tone, walking the line between realism and Marvel’s seemingly in-house directive to be more cartoonish. The fact that Marvel is applying the gender-bending trick to yet another character (not really, because X-23 has been around a while now), didn’t feel contrived or forced to me. It just seemed like a smart idea. So yeah, buy this book.
If you like Jason Aaron’s stories like Men of Wrath, Southern Bastards, and Scalped, you’ll probably like The Goddamned. If you’ve only read his Star Wars series from Marvel, you’re probably in for a shock. Aaron’s skill lies in writing remorseless stories of violence and revenge in the most entertaining way. This particular tales takes place 1600 years after Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Things are not good for humanity. Then along comes… eh, I’ll let you find out. But he and some of the other cast are biblical characters who just want to do a lot of bad stuff to each other. The story gets bogged down by RM Guéra’s art. On one hand, it’s quite pretty to look at. But it’s not effective at communicating what we’re looking at. The use of black and random marks make the fight scenes cluttered and hard to tell the details of what’s being done to whom. Nevertheless, I love the idea of setting a revenge story in the context of the Bible and I’ll come back to see where Aaron takes this and how far he goes with the source material.
You simply cannot go wrong putting Mark Waid on Marvel’s biggest team book, Avengers. And it was smart to use a line-up that, let’s face it, is really the heavy hitters/fan favorites these days. The combination of Iron Man, Goddess Thor, Saw Wilson as Cap, Miles Morales as Spidey, Nova, the Vision, and Ms Marvel should already tell you how great this is going to be. This first issue is spent setting the stage for the dynamics of the characters and what the tone will be for this version of the team. I’m glad Waid isn’t rushing into things. His dialogue is well crafted, more of a dense gourmet meal that you savor rather than fast food you scarf down. He’s taking time to build on the history of the team. And I might have felt shorted for what one expects from a first issue, except for the second half of the book. It’s the story of the first meeting between Kamala Khan and Sam Alexander. I think it’s one of my very favorite stand alone issue tales in recent memory. Waid takes a page from Woody Allen’s book as he shows us what’s going through these two teenager’s heads. It’s charming, smart, and very well done. This book’s going to be a hit.
I suspect some people deserted Batman when Scott Snyder took Bruce Wayne out of the costume, and that’s too bad. This week’s issue convinced me that Snyder is still creating a dense legacy for Batman that will pay off very soon for die-hard traditionalists. In the meantime, the whole cast shines in this installment. Mr Bloom has all the makings of a classic rogue – a combination of the Scarecrow, the Joker, and Poison Ivy. Gordon and Wayne each get some great scenes that advance the characters and give us a sense of where they’re headed. Snyder’s got such control over the tone of his stories – even if you don’t like what he’s done with the title, it’s hard to deny that Batman has one of the most singular voices in today’s comics. If I had to criticize, I’d say that Snyder pulls the “history-of-Gotham” tool out of his kit once too often. I like that Gordon knows so much about the city he defends, but it sticks out that Gotham’s history continues to always be so topical.
Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t really want me to talk about Secret Wars, did you? You were probably just going to go buy it anyway, right? Look, if you’re one of the few comic book readers not buying this book, then I don’t know what to tell you. Other than it’s a colliding of worlds and characters from the history of Marvel that’s unlike any other major event, except maybe DC’s editorial masterpiece, the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s hard for me to unknow what I know from reading the various Secret Wars sub-series. So I’m not sure if anyone not reading those will be lost. I think they’d catch on that Emperor Doom appears to be in danger of losing everything because the various regions have begun to doubt his omnipotence and are revolting. Yep, it’s open warfare and now it’s just a matter of picking sides as different parties form ranks and the fit really hits the shan.
Now let’s talk about the aforementioned titles that you should have picked up last week. These are all new series debuts. (Big surprise, right?)
• Citizen Jack from Image Comics. A small town loser is convinced by a demon that lives in his snow blower dealership to run for president. I liked that this book took itself seriously. A satire that’s still a good story even without the political commentary.
• Klaus from Boom Studios. Well, whaddaya know? Grant Morrison can tell a straightforward story with a traditional narrative. It’s Game of Thrones meets classic fairy tale tropes as we learn the true origin of Santa Claus.
• Johnny Red from Titan. Garth Ennis has a real love affair with WWII. This time he tells the inspired-by-real-events story of an English pilot who flew for the Russians. And the way he gets you to that story is half the fun of this historical drama wrapped in a war time adventure.
• James Bond from Dynamite Entertainment. It’s freakin’ 007 in a comic book – don’t be daft! Truly, Warren Ellis figured out how to capture the tone of the Bond movies on paper without losing anything in the translation.
• Extraordinary X-men from Marvel. If you’re an X-Men fan, or you want to be one, this is the book to be reading. Classic mutant struggle featuring old-school members of the team, not a bunch of Johnny-come-latelys. Yes, Humberto Ramos’s art is on the cartoonish side, but it’s so dynamic and clean, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. This could be the old school X-Men magic again.
Alright kiddies, that’s it for me this week. Tune in next week for another addition of “Meanwhile at The Hall of Comics”. Wanna know what else is out this week? Check out the full list of releases at The Hall of Comics NEW RELEASE page HERE.
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